By request! (In this particular case, "by request" means that a reader actually sent me a CD. Thanks!)
I just finished reading the 2013 book Big Life by manager Jazz Summers. Near the end, Summers laments the changing landscape of the music industry. In particular, these few sentences caught my eye:
Blimey. No more Greatest Hits? I'm having trouble wrapping this old head around that concept. I've got plenty of greatest hits CDs on the shelves and will probably continue to buy them out of habit even though it makes more sense to create my own compilations through downloads. Anyhoo, what's that got to do with today's CD with the witty title? This is one of the landmark "best of" compilations. Mojo magazine reportedly wrote that this release is "truly the best of best of's." This magazine has obviously overlooked the Beatles red and blue compilations, but I see where they are coming from: considering there are 17 tracks and I only skip one, I get Mojo's hyperbolic point.
Historically, this is the first album released to use an audio technology called Q-sound. While I like the fact that attention is paid to a true stereo mix (instead of piling up everything in the middle of the two channels), it's a little strange to listen to, particularly on headphones. It's also very uneven. For example, the vocals on Material Girl sound like an afterthought because the mix is so bad, but Vogue sounds fantastic. In any case, that makes all these tracks remixes. Stephen Thomas Erlewine over at allmusic.com puts it best:
The songs that are included are frequently altered. Everything on the collection is remastered in Q-sound, which gives an exaggerated sense of stereo separation that often distorts the original intent of the recordings. Furthermore, several songs are faster than their original versions and some are faded out earlier than either their single or album versions, while others are segued together. In other words, while all the hits are present, they're simply not in their correct versions.I agree. I'm not a big fan of the Q-sound which faded away rather quickly, which suggests to me I'm not alone in my thinking.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #2
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #81
Tracks: In chronological order, which, as longtime readers know, is my preferred sequencing for such compilations.
|Like a Virgin||1984||1||9||1||29|
|Crazy for You||1985||1||2|
|Into the Groove||1985||*||19||1|
|Live to Tell||1986||1||1|
|Papa Don't Preach||1986||1||4||16|
|Open Your Heart||1986||1||1||12|
|La Isla Bonita
|Like a Prayer||1989||1||20||1||3|
|Justify My Love||1990||1||1|
*Into the Groove was never released as the a-side of a 7" single, making it ineligible for the Hot 100 chart.
And the CD doesn't even include all the hits from that time period. Missing are Top 40 hits Angel (#5), Dress You Up (#5), True Blue (#3), Who's That Girl (#1), Causing A Commotion (#2), Spotlight (#32), Oh Father (#20), Keep It Together (#8), Hanky Panky (#10). The fact that this compilation could have been even better boggles the mind.
So which track do I skip? I disliked Like A Prayer from the get-go. I distinctly remember hearing it on the radio for the first time while I was driving on I-10 out to UTSA for a graduate class and being very disappointed. It tries to be a pop tune, dance tune, and gospel tune and, to me, fails on all counts. And the sedate remix on this CD ain't helpin' the cause any.
Today's picks for favorites are Borderline, Crazy For You, Open Your Heart, Express Yourself, Cherish, and Vogue.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This collection reminds me of my high school friends Jack, Scott, and Eleanor and a cross-country trip they took around the time this CD was released. I was married and couldn't join them on their excursion, but I've seen the video evidence.
Previously revisited for the blog:
Ray Of Light (1998)
Don't Cry For Me Argentina (1997)
Evita: The Complete Motion Picture Music Soundtrack (1996)
Express Yourself (1989)
Like A Virgin (1984)